The real Saudi Arabia
To begin the day by opening your curtains and being faced with the view of a brick wall gives you a bit of an idea of the accommodation the team is staying in. But I love it. This is the real Saudi Arabia. I was concerned that this expedition would provide the team with a lavish lifestyle but we got to experience so many different aspects of this amazing country.
The highlights of today included roaming around the streets of Jeddah with Seb and Marouan, visiting Athr Gallery and eating at Nakeel. The restaurant was very generous with its portions and the food just kept on coming. I was full after just the starters. During the meal, Seb voiced his disapproval of the segregation there is in public places. What I loved the most was the fact that, even though Seb disagreed with the setup of the seating plan, he still respected the rules of the restaurant. His willingness to be open-minded is very admirable and I am proud that he is from the UK. I was also pleased to hear that the leftovers from the restaurant would go to help feed the poor in the vicinity.
Later on, we were lucky enough to be able to spend some time at the successful Athr Gallery; the future of art in Saudi got brighter as the day progressed. Hamza Serafi explained how he wants to set new standards for artwork in Saudi Arabia.
The struggle faced by Saudi artists was evident even just from the location of Athr Gallery. We had to walk through a mall, up two floors and through a car park to reach the gallery. Conversing with several people painted a bigger picture of the need of aspiring artists and how this has affected the kingdom as a consequence of the lack of creativity.